About my work

I work as an electronic engineer in the offshore, oil support industry. I currently work for a company called Subsea7, formed by a merger between Halliburton Subsea and DSND.
Before Subsea7, I worked for a company called UDI, also in the oil support industry.

My main involvement with both of these companies is with the installation of subsea umbilical cables and flowlines. These cables and flowlines connect oil wells on the seabed to production facilities, either traditional platforms or FPSO’s (Floating Production, Storage and Off-loading)

Flowline Installation

I now work almost exclusively with Subsea7’s “Vertical Lay System”. This was designed and built for us by a Dutch company called Huisman-Itrec, who specialise in heavy lifting equipment, usually cranes. The VLS is used for installing flexible flowlines and control umbilicals for gas and oil fields. The system is hydraulically powered and controlled by a system of programmable logic controllers, or PLC’s. The bulk of my work in the last four years has been with this system, on projects in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea.

VLS on MV Adams Challenge

Toisa Perseus

In 1998 Rockwater (Subsea7’s previous name) took delivery of the “Toisa Perseus” on a five year contract, from Sealion Shipping, to support their global cable and pipelay operations. It is now the new home for the Vertical Lay System, and has additional cable
“carousels” in the hold, below deck, increasing the systems capacity. In addition to the VLS the vessel also has at its disposal, a 30 tonne crane, a 250 tonne crane and two work-class ROV’s. My current assignment is as Electrical Supervisor of the VLS on-board the Toisa Perseus, working a rotation of ‘4 weeks on – 4 weeks off’. As the ship will be shortly working further afield, namely in the waters off Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico, this is likely to change to ‘6 weeks on – 6 weeks off’. In September 2002 “Percy” reached a landmark of which all who work on board are very proud, FOUR YEARS without a LTA (Lost Time Accident)

MV Toisa Perseus
MV Toisa Perseus

This record was maintained until between Christmas and New Year 2002, when an injury (relatively minor, thankfully) to one of the riggers on-board ended the accident free run at 1461 days.


After cable and flowlines are installed they are usually buried beneath the seabed for protection. So another aspect of our work is “Trenching”. Rockwaters trencher is a 45 ton, track driven, remotely operated machine, capable of burying 600mm diameter flowlines, 1.5 meters below the seabed in over 200 meters of water depth. Having being heavily involved with this machine, practically since it was a sketch on the back of a cigarette packet, it still tends to be my favourite job!

TM402P Seabed Trenching Machine

Footnote: Due to rationalisation after the Subsea7 merger, the decision was taken to scrap the TM402P Trencher. For many of us who had worked on it from the beginning, through out the construction, commissioning and operational life of the machine it was a sad day. Although limited in it’s capabilities compared to the latest generation of Trenchers, it was none the less a remarkably successful machine. It’s operational ‘down-time’ was less than 5% and through-out it’s operational life it never failed to complete a job.


When I first joined Rockwater, I had a two year spell as a ROV
Pilot/Engineer. Operating and maintaing Remotely Controlled (underwater)
Vehicles. This is a job which toggled between being very interesting and very routine!

UDI Group

Before I joined Rockwater, I worked for a company called UDI. I had worked for them as a student, then got a full time job when I left college. I was a technician, maintaining and operating their seabed trenching machine, which was completely remote controlled. It was a very interesting period for me and I learned a lot!.

UDI's Marine Trenching Vehicle

The UDI vehicle was a versatile machine, consisting of a main chassis, which carried the electronic and hydraulic systems, and a variety of tools for burying flowlines and cables, backfilling trenches and leveling the seabed. I left UDI to join Rockwater in 1990.

Interesting Note

The sharp eyed viewer may have noticed a similarity in the handling systems at the top of the Rockwater machine and the UDI machine! Although one is attached to a crane and the other to an A-frame, one was based on the other!.


All this tends to keep me busy and on the move. Although most of our work has been in the North Sea, I have been on jobs in India (’95), Australia (’96), China (’98) Singapore and the Philippines (’01 and ’10-’11) the Gulf of Mexico (early ’02 and ’04-’05), Brazil (’02-’03) and, West Africa (’05-’09)